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Retail sales turn negative for the first time since February

Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

U.S. retail sales, which had been the highest-flying piece of American economic data for most of the year, fell in September for the first time in 7 months, raising fears that the U.S. manufacturing recession may be bleeding into the consumer side of the economy.

The big picture. Data from the Commerce Department showed the drop was a result of households cutting spending on building materials, online purchases and especially automobiles. Online retail sales also turned negative for the first time since December 2018.